Drive Guide: Auto Emergencies
What to do when something goes wrong
Sun burnt, happy and fun-fatigued, we were cruising along on California Interstate 15 when our vacation was cut short by silence, as in no engine growl, just the muted whirr of tires rolling along with no power.
We had gone Gilligan. Broken down, stranded, with no power or cell phone, stuck between Barstow and Needles, sitting inside a tube of metal.
So much for fun-fatigued. We were now suffering from roadside remorse, and would soon be hit with a sobering case of Local's Repair Shop Revenge. We had made sure the car was road-worthy before we left, had prepared meticulously for the trip. What more could we have done to avoid being stuck in Needles, paying Joe Buck's shop rent for the month?
We could have prepared for a breakdown, even though we were sure it would not happen. Fact is, accidents and breakdowns do happen despite the best intentions. Read the tips below so you're prepared, just in case…
The Driver is Locked Out of the Car
Button locks: Use a wire or a coat hanger. Straighten the wire and make a small loop or fishhook shape at one end. Slip the wire through the crack of the window or down through the top crack of the door. You may slip the wire past the weather-stripping of the door. Jiggle the wire around so that the hook will loop around the button lock and then try to lift up the lock. Have a lot of patience.
If you are unable to pull up the lock for some reason, call a police station and tell them the circumstances. A service station may also help to unlock the door. The police call is free - a service station will probably charge about $25.00.
NOTE: The weather-stripping around the window often costs more than the locksmith or tow truck driver's fee. Most have a tool that fits into the door jamb and can be inflated, prying out the door frame around the window just enough to get the appropriate lock-popping device inside without damaging any weather-stripping.